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For 17 years, J.R. Watkins called Plainview “home”. It was in his house that he began his world famous business, mixing the first batch of liniment in a wooden barrel right in the middle of the kitchen! And now you can experience the humble beginnings of J.R. Watkins, “where it all began”.


The house, originally located on Broadway (view the original location by clicking here), was moved to its present site in 1911, which can be viewed here, to make way for a new home. Thought to have been torn down it was brought to the attention of Ron Manzow that the house still existed, but no one was sure where it was. Armed with only a picture Ron drove around Plainview until he finally found it.


In March of 2008, the Watkins house was purchased by the Plainview Area History Center with the purpose of showcasing the early years of the Watkins’ story. Displays and exhibits were designed to be portable, allowing multiple uses of the facilities.


In August of 2017 the Plainview Area History Center sold the Watkins' house to consolidate its properties. The home is now under private ownership.

The Watkins House is located at 140 3rd St. NW in Plainview, Minnesota.


Take a look at the images below to see how the Watkins' House was setup. We also have a virtual tour of the Watkins' house that you can view by clicking here.

The Parlor

This room features the Watkins family, including a replica of Watkins' original desk, (the original being located at the Winona County Historical Society) and also provides a sample of what life was like in Plainview during the Watkins stay. The furnishings are not original to the family,

but were added to give visitors a feel for the era.

*Click on the slide shows to open a full image view.*

The Side Room

This room was added after the Watkins left Plainview. It was added by Dr. Tabor, a dentist who bought the house from the Watkins, by pushing the wall a few feet and bumping out on the south. It features the Watkins business and the legal battle between Watkins and the Plainview firm of Landon & Burchard over the right to use the Dr. Ward’s name. It also contains a display on Plainview’s “Watkins Man”, Charlie Venables.

The Back Room

This room was the original kitchen where J.R. Watkins mixed his first batch of Dr. Ward’s liniment in a wooden barrel. The bay window was added, by Dr. Tabor, after the Watkins family left in 1885.

The room features a replica of the wooden barrel as well as displays of Watkins products.

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